Jeremiah 51
Babylon will be destroyed
1I, the LORD, am sending
a wind#51.1 wind: Or “spirit”. to destroy
the people of Babylonia#51.1 Babylonia: The Hebrew text has “Leb-Qamai”, a secret way of writing “Babylonia”.
and Babylon, its capital.
2Foreign soldiers will come
from every direction,
and when the disaster is over,
Babylonia will be empty
and worthless.
3I will tell these soldiers,
“Attack quickly,
before the Babylonians
can string their bows
or put on their armour.#51.3 I will tell…armour: Or “Attack quickly! String your bows and put on your armour.”
Kill their best soldiers
and destroy their army!”
4Their troops will fall wounded
in the streets of Babylon.
5Everyone in Israel and Judah
is guilty.
But I, the LORD All-Powerful,
their holy God,
have not abandoned them.
6Get out of Babylon!
Run for your lives!
If you stay, you will be killed
when I take revenge on the city
and punish it for its sins.
7Babylon was my golden cup,#Rev 17.2-4; 18.3.
filled with the wine
of my anger.
The nations of the world
got drunk on this wine
and went insane.
8But suddenly, Babylon will fall
and be destroyed.
I, the LORD, told the foreigners#51.8 the foreigners: Or “my people”.
who lived there,
“Weep for the city!
Get medicine for its wounds;
perhaps they will heal.”
9The foreigners answered,#Rev 18.5.
“We have already tried
to treat Babylon's wounds,
but they would not heal.
Come on, let's all go home
to our own countries.
Nothing is left in Babylonia;
everything is destroyed.”
10The people of Israel said,
“Tell everyone in Zion!
The LORD has taken revenge
for what Babylon did to us.”
The LORD wants Babylon destroyed
11I, the LORD,
want Babylon destroyed,
because its army
destroyed my temple.
So, you kings of Media,#51.11 kings of Media: Probably kings of smaller kingdoms that were part of the Median empire (see also verse 27 and the note there).
sharpen your arrows
and pick up your shields.
12Raise the signal flag
and attack the city walls.
Post more guards.
Command soldiers to watch the city
and set up ambushes.
I have made plans
to destroy Babylon,
and nothing will stop me.
13People of Babylon, you live#Rev 17.1.
along the River Euphrates
and are surrounded by canals.
You are rich,
but now the time has come
for you to die.#51.13 for you to die: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
14I, the LORD All-Powerful,
swear by my own life
that enemy soldiers
will fill your streets
like a swarm of locusts.#51.14 locusts: See the note at 46.22,23.
They will shout
and celebrate their victory.
A hymn of praise
(Jeremiah 10.12-16)
15God used his wisdom and power
to create the earth
and spread out the heavens.
16The waters in the heavens roar
at his command.
He makes clouds appear;
he sends the wind
from his storehouse
and makes lightning flash
in the rain.
17People who make idols
are stupid!
They will be disappointed,
because their false gods
cannot breathe.
18Idols are merely a joke,
and when the time is right,
they will be destroyed.
19But the LORD, Israel's God,
is all-powerful.
He created everything,
and he chose Israel
to be his very own.
God's hammer
The LORD said:
20Babylonia, you were my hammer;
I used you to pound nations
and break kingdoms,
21to shatter cavalry and chariots,
22as well as men and women,
young and old,
23shepherds and their flocks,
farmers and their oxen,
and governors and leaders.
24But now, my people will watch,
while I repay you
for what you did to Zion.
25You destroyed the nations
and seem strong as a mountain,
but I am your enemy.
I might even grab you
and roll you off a cliff.
When I have finished,
you'll only be a pile
of scorched bricks.
26Your stone blocks won't be reused
for cornerstones
or foundations,
and I promise that for ever
you will be a desert.
I, the LORD, have spoken.
The nations will attack Babylon
The LORD said:
27Signal the nations
to get ready to attack.
Raise a flag and blow a trumpet.
Send for the armies of Ararat,
Minni, and Ashkenaz.#51.27 Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz: Kingdoms to the north of Babylonia that were part of the Median empire (see also verse 28).
Choose a commander;
let the cavalry attack
like a swarm of locusts.
28Tell the kings and governors,
the leaders and the people
of the kingdoms of the Medes
to prepare for war!
29The earth twists and turns
in torment,
because I have decided
to make Babylonia a desert
where no one can live,
and I won't change my mind.
30The Babylonian soldiers
have lost their strength
and courage.#51.30 have lost their strength and courage: Hebrew “have lost their strength and have become like women”.
They stay in their fortresses,
unable to fight,
while the enemy breaks through
the city gates,
then sets their homes on fire.
31One messenger after another
announces to the king,
“Babylon has been captured!
32The enemy now controls
the river crossings!
The marshes#51.32 marshes: The tall grass in the marshes could have provided hiding places for people trying to escape from Babylon. are on fire!
Your army has panicked!”
33I am the LORD All-Powerful,
the God of Israel,
and I make this promise—
“Soon Babylon will be levelled
and packed down
like a threshing place
at harvest time.”#51.33 levelled…harvest time: A threshing place with an earth surface had to be levelled and packed down before it could be used.
Babylonia will pay!
34The people of Jerusalem say,
“King Nebuchadnezzar#51.34 Nebuchadnezzar: See the note at 21.2.
made us panic.
That monster stuffed himself
with us and our treasures,
leaving us empty—
he gobbled up
what he wanted
and spat out the rest.
35The people of Babylonia
harmed some of us#51.35 harmed some of us: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
and killed others.
Now, LORD, make them pay!”
The LORD will take revenge on Babylon
36My people, I am on your side,
and I will take revenge
on Babylon.
I will cut off its water supply,
and its stream#51.36 stream: Probably the River Euphrates. will dry up.
37Babylon will be a pile of rubble
where only jackals#51.37 jackals: See the note at 9.11. live.
People will laugh,
but they will be afraid
to walk among the ruins.
38The Babylonians roar and growl
like young lions.
39And since they are hungry,
I will give them a banquet.
They will celebrate, get drunk,
then fall asleep,
never to wake up!
40I will lead them away to die,
like sheep, lambs, and goats
being led to the butcher.
41All nations now praise Babylon,#51.41 Babylon: The Hebrew text has “Sheshach”, a secret way of writing the name “Babylon”.
but when it is captured,
those same nations
will be horrified.
42Babylon's enemies will rise
like ocean waves
and flood the city.
43Horrible destruction will strike
the nearby towns.
The land will become
a barren desert,
where no one can live
or even travel.
44I will punish Marduk,#51.44 Marduk: Hebrew “Bel” (see the note at 50.2).
the god of Babylon,
and make him vomit
everything he gobbled up.
Then nations will no longer
bring him gifts,
and Babylon's walls will crumble.
The LORD offers hope to his people
45Get out of Babylon, my people,
and run for your lives,
before I strike the city
in my anger!
46Don't be afraid or lose hope,
though year after year
there are rumours
of leaders fighting for control
in the city of Babylon.
47The time will come
when I will punish
Babylon's false gods.
Everyone there will die,
and the whole nation
will be disgraced,
48when an army attacks#Rev 18.20.
from the north
and brings destruction.
Then the earth and the heavens
and everything in them
will celebrate.
49Babylon must be overthrown,#Rev 18.24.
because it slaughtered
the people of Israel
and of many other nations.
50My people, you escaped death
when Jerusalem fell.
Now you live far from home,
but you should trust me
and think about Jerusalem.
Leave Babylon! Don't stay!
51You feel ashamed and disgraced,
because foreigners have entered
my sacred temple.
52Soon I will send a war
to punish Babylon's idols
and leave its wounded people
moaning everywhere.
53Although Babylon's walls
reach to the sky,
the army I send
will destroy that city.
I, the LORD, have spoken.
Babylon will be destroyed
The LORD said:
54Listen to the cries for help
coming from Babylon.
Everywhere in the country
the sounds of destruction
can be heard.
55The shouts of the enemy,
like crashing ocean waves,
will drown out Babylon's cries
as I level the city.
56An enemy will attack
and destroy Babylon.
Its soldiers will be captured
and their weapons broken,
because I am a God
who takes revenge against nations
for what they do.
57I, the LORD All-Powerful,
the true King, promise
that the officials and advisers,
the governors and leaders
and the soldiers of Babylon
will get drunk, fall asleep,
and never wake up.
58The thick walls of that city
will be torn down,
and its huge gates burnt.
Everything that nation
worked so hard to gain
will go up in smoke.
Jeremiah gives Seraiah a scroll
59During Zedekiah's#51.59 Zedekiah's: See the note at 1.3. fourth year as king of Judah, he went to Babylon. And Baruch's brother Seraiah#51.59 Baruch's brother Seraiah: Hebrew “Seraiah son of Neriah and grandson of Mahseiah”; Baruch helped Jeremiah write down his messages (see 32.12; 36.4-10). went along as the officer in charge of arranging for places to stay overnight.#51.59 arranging for places to stay overnight: Hebrew and one ancient translation; two ancient translations, “the tax money”.
60Before they left, I wrote on a scroll#51.60 scroll: See the note at 30.1,2. all the terrible things that would happen to Babylon. 61I gave the scroll to Seraiah and said:
When you get to Babylon, read this scroll aloud, 62then pray, “Our LORD, you promised to destroy this place and make it into a desert where no people or animals will ever live.”
63When you finish praying, tie the scroll to a rock and throw it in the River Euphrates. Then say,#Rev 18.21. 64“This is how Babylon will sink when the LORD destroys it. Everyone in the city will die, and it won't have the strength to rise again.”
The end of Jeremiah's writing
Jeremiah's writing ends here.